PHOTOS: Thousands take part in Palestine Marathon for free movement — By Activestills on +972 Mag com

Israel denies permits to over 100 runners from Gaza. ’Freedom of movement is not only a right in itself, but is essential for the enjoyment of many other human rights,’ the United Nations says of the fourth annual marathon.

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Runners at the starting line of the 2016 Palestine Marathon, Bethlehem, West Bank, April 1, 2016. (Ahmad al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Thousands of Palestinian and international runners from 64 countries participated in the fourth annual Palestine Marathon in the West Bank city of Bethlehem Friday morning. The run was held under the banner of the right to freedom of movement, a theme that was accented by Israel’s concrete separation wall along which much of the route was forced to follow.

Mervin Steenkamp of South Africa won the race with a 2:35:26 finish.

The marathon, which started at the Church of the Nativity in Manger Square and passed through two refugee camps, Aida and Dheisheh, included two full loops. The wall, along with the Israeli military checkpoints that surround Bethlehem and nearby villages and towns, made finding a full marathon route difficult if not impossible.

Runners in the 2016 Palestine Marathon gather in Manger Square outside the Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem, West Bank, April 1, 2016. (Ahmad al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Runners in the 2016 Palestine Marathon gather in Manger Square outside the Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem, West Bank, April 1, 2016. (Ahmad al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

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